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Pet parents often feel like they have to give up on their desire to visit other countries when they welcome a canine or feline companion into their home. But this isn’t necessarily true. In many cases, pet parents can bring their four-legged friends with them to explore new places. However, they’ll need a dog or cat passport first.
Like humans, pets need a passport to travel to different countries. Theirs is a bit different, though. The documentation shows that the pet is up-to-date on all of the necessary vaccinations and other treatments the destination country requires. Without it, a cat or dog might not be able to travel — or they might have to go through a lengthy, lonely quarantine period without their pet parent.
For pet parents wondering “how to get a passport for my pet,” here are the steps they need to take to obtain one:
The destination country needs proof of good pet health. The exact requirements may vary, though. Therefore, one of the first things pet parents will have to do is find out what vaccinations and other treatments their pet will need before they arrive.
Generally, all countries require an up-to-date rabies vaccination. A pet may also need things like:
A rabies titer test
Pet parents can find the exact requirements by visiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture website. They can also contact the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., or check the embassy’s website.
Pet parents also need to check the rules and regulations of the airlines they’re using when traveling with a pet. If pet parents are using multiple airlines, they’ll have to look into the requirements of each one, as they may vary between companies.
For example, some airlines require pet parents to have their pet health certificate issued no sooner than 10 days before the departure date. Others may be stricter. Checking with each airline will help avoid complications come travel time.
Once a pet parent knows what they need, it’s time to get an official pet health certificate. While an online vet can help them learn the vaccines and treatments a pet needs, they can only obtain the actual certificate from a licensed vet. Their vet will perform a thorough exam and provide the necessary treatments.
Some countries may require pet parents to have their pet health certificate certified by the USDA too. In some cases, that may mean a pet parent needs to send their certificate in by mail. Depending on where they are, they may be able to drop it off in person.
Now, what if a pet isn’t healthy enough to travel to another country? As hard as that can be for a pet parent, their canine or feline friend may be better off staying at home with a trusted friend or family member.
If a pet parent intends to return to the United States with their animal companion, they should be sure to check the requirements for importation. Those rules will vary depending on the species of the pet as well as where the pet went.
The exact cost of a pet passport can vary greatly. It depends on factors like the cost of:
The vaccinations and treatments the pet needs
The vet consultation
The USDA endorsement
The import permit
Just as the cost of a pet passport can vary, so can the length of time it takes to get one. It all comes down to the requirements of the destination country. Depending on where a pet parent plans to go, it can take a few weeks to several months to complete the process. This means pet parents should begin their research as early as possible. That’ll enable them to get organized and take all the steps they need at the right time.
Traveling with a pet requires a lot of prep work. Pet parents need to go through the steps of obtaining a health certificate and USDA certification first. They also need to make sure that they know the destination country’s rules and regulations for incoming pets before they go.
With everything in order, pet parents can enjoy the company of their canine and feline companions no matter where they go in the world.